This is my Fair Play column for SunStar Cebu’s June 3 edition.
Before, in the leadup to the major campaign by the national football team, we would get regular updates from Cedelf Tupas, the Inquirer’s and the country no. 1 source when it comes to football news. Let me digress a bit, during the search for Michael Weiss replacement, I tried to out-scoop him and while I did manage one or two, he left no doubt he’s the go to guy for news with a series of articles only he could write.
So, since then, like any other football fan I wait for his updates. And we got used to it. Before we’d even get the official lineup, we would know who would be on it and why. We’d know who would be left out due for reasons like club commitments, lack of form or even lack of papers. There weren’t much surprises by the time the official pool comes out.
But Cedelf has made the jump and is now with the PFF–please don’t take that against him, anyone would, given the chance and under the present atmosphere–so yes, there were a lot of surprises and questions when the lineup for the World Cup qualifiers came out, chief of which where “Who are they and why aren’t they here?”
The first they, of course, refers to the new faces in the team and the second they, the old regulars. More questions were raised when, a few days later, the PFF had to revise the lineup because some didn’t have a PHL passport, a visa or due to travel restrictions.
Simple clerical matters, right? However, I learned from, who else, Cedelf, that the PFF had written to the consulates in Germany, asking them for help in the application of the players. However, some of them were caught in their own bubbles prior to the qualifiers. You could say the players could have started their process before their bubbles, but the PFF can only prod them, not physically take them to the consulate to have their applications processed.
As to de Murga’s visa problem. I thought that was weird but when I read a Guam player had the same problem with his Chinese visa, a light bulb clicked all I could think was, “Aaaaahhh.”
There’s another question too that fans want to know—will Bienvinido Maranon get to play in this window? Sadly, even if congress somehow acts in the next two days, the United FC striker still doesn’t have a passport—how could he apply for one, he still isn’t officially a Pinoy.
But there’s a bit of good news. Reliable sources in the team said Gerrit Holtman and Jesper Nylholm are waiting for their passport release and are ready to fly out and answer the fans’ question, “Who are they?”
They describe Oliver Bias as fast, quick and skillful, and like Matthew Baldisimo and Jefferson Tabinas, is eligible for this year’s Southeast Asian Games. As to the old regulars, they said Kevin Ingresso is working on a new contract and asked to be excused, Javier Patino, and this is news, retired from international football, while Daisuke Sato and Manu Ott aren’t at their peak form.
Both are still in their 20s, I hope that will change and we’ll seem them fighting for spots in the squad. The better competition for spots, the better for us, right?
Will there be more changes? I guess we’ll wait and see while we wait for another question to be answered, “How will we fare in the qualifiers?”